The DTE Energy Foundation has awarded $1 million to The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to fund several significant environmental programs throughout Michigan that will preserve, protect and enhance the state’s treasured natural habitats and species. This latest grant to TNC will be used to fund the Healthy Cities program in Detroit, wetlands restoration efforts at Erie Marsh Preserve in southern Michigan and whitefish research and restocking in west and northern Michigan.
“The DTE Foundation understands the importance of doing everything we can to protect the wonderous natural beauty in our home state through our long-standing partnership with The Nature Conservancy and its forward-thinking programs,” said Lynette Dowler, president, DTE Foundation. “We have seen the impact of the TNC’s work firsthand over the years and are grateful for their efforts to preserve our home state’s environment, benefitting our communities for generations to come. As Michiganders, we are all fortunate to have The Nature Conservancy working on our behalf; their vision will ensure the vitality of our state’s natural heritage.”
The Foundation has funded The Nature Conservancy since 2011, enabling the organization to advance its environmental programs throughout Michigan. The initiatives covered in this latest round of funding will be carried out over the next three years.
“The support we have received from the DTE Energy Foundation has been instrumental in helping us address long-standing environmental challenges in Michigan,” said Helen Taylor, Michigan state director of The Nature Conservancy. “The sheer scope of their financial commitment will allow us to protect and enhance natural attributes in our cities, rivers, lakes and state parks, and it will provide educational opportunities for the next generation of conservationists. We are fortunate to have such a supportive partner who is clearly focused on future sustainability.”
The Healthy Cities program is designed to integrate environmental programs into Michigan’s urban setting. TNC will work with well-established community groups and residents in the Eastern Market area in Detroit to develop green stormwater infrastructure that will benefit water quality. The work will include:
- Establishing a residential repair program and resources to support local residents.
- Developing a community engagement plan for the Eastern Market area that guides long-term support for residents and community-based organizations that will benefit food providers and business community members in the area.
- Acting as a community liaison on behalf of the Eastern Market Partnership to jumpstart the program and build up resources over the next few years.
Over the next three years, TNC will work with project partners – including the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources – to accelerate whitefish restoration efforts in the rivers that flow into Lakes Michigan and Huron. Working with its partners, TNC will conduct surveys on Lake Michigan tributaries and at tribal hatcheries to develop and test methods for possible future stocking efforts in the rivers suitable for whitefish populations. The Muskegon River is a possible location for stocking in 2023.
Erie Marsh Restoration
TNC plans to complete the final phase of its wetland restoration at Erie Marsh, reestablishing the natural habitat in the remaining 198 acres of the project. To date, DTE Foundation and TNC have joined forces to restore more than 750 acres of wetlands habitat at Erie Marsh. The support of the DTE Foundation has been critical to this project over the past decade, recently helping to raise over $200,000 from private donors as well as nearly $500,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for this final phase.
The DTE Foundation’s support will enable TNC to extend its two-year Conservation Fellowship program to a new graduate or undergraduate student, engaging this diverse candidate in an immersive, career-building experience that also brings valuable capacity to TNC’s conservation work.
The DTE Foundation is dedicated to cultivating diverse, inclusive, and equitable communities and supports initiatives focused on arts and culture, community transformation, economic progress, education and employment, environment and human needs.